Japan FTC Warns Amazon, Google over Video Streaming Services

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Fair Trade Commission / The Public Prosecutors Office. in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2022.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s Fair Trade Commission on Wednesday warned Amazon.com Inc. and Google LLC that they may be violating the country’s antimonopoly law, over video streaming services.

If the U.S. technology giants cause disadvantages to streaming services that use their television operating systems by changing terms and conditions unilaterally, that could amount to abuse of their superior bargaining position, prohibited by the antimonopoly law, the FTC said.

The antitrust watchdog urged the two companies to consult with service providers fully in advance when changing terms and conditions.

A survey of consumers and service providers, released by the FTC on Wednesday, showed that TV operating systems from Amazon and Google together hold about 70% of the market. The oligopoly by the two companies is unique to Japan.

Amazon plans to collect commission fees from the operators of TVer, Abema and other free video streaming services. TVer streams TV programs, while Abema is partly owned by TV Asahi Corp. The FTC said that it will keep monitoring the plan.

The FTC also pointed out that the practice by Amazon and Google of giving priority to their own streaming services in their video rankings and recommendations could lead to private monopoly, calling for the companies to disclose their standards as much as possible.

According to the survey, even TVs manufactured by Sharp Corp. and Sony Corp. use Google’s Android operating system. Panasonic Corp. is switching its own operating system to Amazon’s Fire.

“The influence of Amazon and Google will grow further in the future,” an FTC official said.